Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suffered a loss of Rs. 19 billion due to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) ban on its flight operations.
The ban was imposed in July 2020 following PIA’s fake pilot license scandal and has been causing a loss of Rs. 2.2 billion every month, which currently amounts to Rs. 19 billion.
The EASA had initially imposed a six-month ban ending on 31 December 2020, which was later stretched by another three months until 31 March 2021.
A PIA official revealed that 58 weekly flights used to fly to Europe, of which 46 went to the United Kingdom and 12 to other European countries.
The ban has now been extended for an unidentified period, with a final warning to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to have its safety audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the summer of 2021. The audit, which is an essential requirement, has not been conducted since 2009.
The latest development came in a letter issued by the EASA in response to PIA’s request for the ban to be lifted and to use only flight crew and engineers who do not hold Pakistani licenses.
The letter contended that the CAA has not fulfilled all the conditions required for the ban to be lifted and that it should now revoke the Third Country Operator Authorization (TCOA) – a safety authorization issued by the European flight safety agency, following a technical assessment of non-European aircraft operators.
However, in view of the ICAO audit of Pakistan planned in summer 2021, the ongoing technical consultations with the CAA, and due to the exceptional circumstances arising from the current COVID-19 crisis and the consequent travel restrictions, EASA opts not to revoke your TCOA but to further extend the suspension period until all necessary information is available to decide on the way forward.
The EASA also responded to the request of the flight crew and engineers who do not hold Pakistani licenses, saying that “The offer does not fully mitigate all concerns regarding the oversight capabilities of the CAA.”